Write Paragraphs in APA Format Using Word

The Microsoft Word screenshots below show you how to write your paragraphs in APA format.

The required APA format for a paragraph is:

  • Font type and size of your choice within  APA seventh edition guidelines.
  • Aligned against the left margin
  • First line of the paragraph indented (0.5 in or 1.27 cm)
  • Double line spaced
  • No automatic hyphenation

Did you know you only need to do this once - forever, including new future academic papers!

Figures 1 to 3 show you how to set up your paragraph in APA format.

Then set up your APA paragraph style in Microsoft Word once.

After that, you will be able to create all your paragraphs in APA format by selecting the APA paragraph style.

There is no need to define the format again!

The APA paragraph format will be available at all times for your academic writing.

The advantages of using an APA paragraph style in Microsoft Word are:

  • efficiency (you will save lots of time not having to format each paragraph individually)
  • accuracy (get the format correct the first time and it will always be correct)
  • consistency (the same format will be applied each time)
  • maintenance (if something changes, for example, the font size, you change it once in the style and Word makes the changes automatically in every paragraph).

Write a Paragraph in APA Format

Step 1 - Choose Font Type and Size

Please note: APA seventh edition allows various font types and sizes (opens in new window). Choose your font type and size.

However, you must use the same font throughout, for example, title page, abstract, headings and paragraphs.

Set the font type and size for APA paragraph formattingFigure 1: Font type and size for paragraph in APA format

Figure 1 written instructions (if required) are:

  1. Select the paragraph, or place where you want to write the paragraph in APA format.
  2. Select the Home tab.
  3. Choose your Font, for example, Times New Roman.
  4. Choose your Font size, for example, 12.
  5. Select the Paragraph dialog box (bottom right hand arrow in the Paragraph group).

Step 2 - Align, Indent and Space

Set up alignment, indent and spacing for paragraph in APA formatFigure 2: Alignment, indent and spacing for paragraph in APA format

Figure 2 written instructions (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the Indents and Spacing tab (if not already selected).
  2. Set Alignment to Left (if not already set - should be the default).
  3. Set Outline level to Body Text (if not already set).
  4. Set First line indent to 0.5 inches (1.27 centimeters).
  5. Set Before and After Spacing to 0 pt (if not already set).
  6. Set Line spacing to Double.
  7. Select the Line and Page Breaks tab.

Step 3 - Choose No Hyphenation

Set up no hyphenation for paragraph in APA formatFigure 3: Hyphenation rule for paragraph in APA format

Written instructions for Figure 2 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Check Widow/Orphan control is selected (should be the default).
    This is not an APA format requirement but prevents a single line of a paragraph being by itself at the top or bottom of a page.
  2. Select Don't hyphenate.
  3. Click on OK.

Write Many Paragraphs in APA Format (Using Styles)

Figures 1 to 3 above show you how to write a paragraph in APA format. But you will have many paragraphs to write in APA format - both in current and future academic papers.

You may be able to create a new paragraph at the end of a current paragraph, and the APA format will carry through. But if this is interrupted, for example, by a heading, the APA paragraph formatting is lost.

You could use Format Painter in the Home tab to copy that APA format to each paragraph as you write. This still takes a lot of time, and if you want to change the format, you must paint over every paragraph again.

Fortunately, there is a quicker way if you use Microsoft Word styles.

Set up your APA paragraph style in Word once and then:

  • create all your paragraphs in APA format with one click.
  • format all your future APA style academic papers with one click.

There is no need to define the format again!

Use the paragraph you have written in APA format to create an APA paragraph style in Microsoft Word.

Summary

Figures 1 to 3 above showed you how to write your paragraph in APA format.

Then it was strongly suggested you create an APA paragraph style in Microsoft Word.

The APA paragraph format will be available to you at all times for your academic writing.

The advantages of using an APA paragraph style in Word are:

  • efficiency (you will save lots of time not having to write all your paragraphs in APA format individually)
  • accuracy (get the format correct the first time and it will always be correct)
  • consistency (the same format will be applied each time)
  • maintenance (if something changes, for example, the font size, you change it once in the style and Word makes the changes automatically in every paragraph).

An added advantage is that you will know how to use Microsoft Word styles which will benefit you greatly in your professional career.

References

See APA paragraph format for the official American Psychological Association Guide.